The Forward Press: Cutbacks Galore as ATO Cruise Past Halifax

The Forward Press: Cutbacks Galore as ATO Cruise Past Halifax

It wasn’t quite the stiff opposition Atlético Ottawa faced traveling to Wanderers Ground last year, and Atlético Ottawa owe that to Lorenzo Callegari. It was a silly challenge from the one-time PSG man which left his ten fellow Haligonians weathering an Atleti storm. Del Campo and Tabla both found their scoring boots, while the spritely Manny Aparicio will return to Ottawa this week with another goal to his name. Ottawa was in cruise control for the majority of the match, and Yesli looked sure to claim a clean sheet in his first league start for Atlético Ottawa but for a late strike by Riley Ferrazzo. Nevertheless, Coach Carlos Gonzalez was pleased with the result that brought ATO to an undefeated second place in the league as of Saturday evening. Gonzalez and opening goalscorer Rubén Del Campo sat down with the press after the match. Here are all the juicy details from Atlético Ottawa’s 3-1 win over Halifax:

The Quotes: Rubén Del Campo

On finally finding the back of the net: “Yeah, it's my first goal here. I'm very happy to help the team to win. And yes, the first match away. It's important for the team to start the away games with a win and very important for the rest of the week.”

Photo © Trevor MacMillan

On team mentality: “We have a new group and a lot of new players. Good quality, but the field [does the talking] and we have to improve, to train every single day to increase the level of the team. And it's important to make wins, to be strong together, and that's the role to follow.”

On the strategy that undid Halifax: “We have worked all the week…so we know some things that the coach has told us to do and to improve during the game, and for me, I think that’s a very important goal.”

The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez

On the ongoing quest for a ‘complete game’: “I think we did what we had to do in every single moment of the game. First ten or 15 minutes before the red card, I think that the team…started to be dominant and play a lot of time in their field. Then from that red card, we had more possibilities because we had an extra player, but we did quite well. And mainly, I'm proud of the first 20, 30 minutes of the second half in which we put the correct rhythm within the correct spaces. We were ambitious, so pretty happy for that.”

On starting Yesli over Ingham: “We are lucky. I think that we have two great goalkeepers. We've seen the evolution of Yesli in the offseason, in which he worked really well. At the moment, Nate is our starter. I decided that giving the opportunity to Rayane in the Championship, it was quite fair to give him one game before so that he could grab a little bit of feelings, because at the end of the day, on Wednesday it is going to be a knockout game. So I felt that this was the best way to manage it.”

On whether or not there was any strategy behind scoring three cut-backs: “You see my face, no? So I think I answered with that face...”

Photo © Halifax Wanderers Media

On turning up the tempo after the red card: "We were not playing with the rhythm that the game demanded to break them. And yeah, the last ten, 15 minutes of the first half were quite better in which we played faster, we find the correct spaces, and the team connected again. Sometimes when you play against a team that is with one less player, you sometimes accommodate yourself and you start to relax. And I think that was very important to score before half-time."

Photo © Trevor MacMillan

Gonzalez also spoke kindly of Rubén Del Campo, saying how happy he was to see the striker on the scoresheet for the first time in a competitive match. We are certainly starting to see CarGo’s destined XI shine through rather than a more holistic rotation, and the presser discussions of Del Campo may indicate the striker's position on the outside of the starters. But Gonzalez emphasized the importance of having players coming off the bench that can buy into the team's ideas. Given how Carlos described giving an extra start to backup Rayane Yesli ahead of the Canadian Championship game on Wednesday, one wonders if he may apply that same rule to his Swiss striker. Research from within the Writers Shed indicates Del Campo’s goal was the first goal involvement by an Atleti striker since Sam Salter hit for two against Halifax in a losing effort in September of 2023. If Del Campo can find a purple patch in the next run of games, Atlético Ottawa will be all the better for it.

And speaking of the next run of games, prepare yourselves for a rapid turnaround as Atlético Ottawa return to TD Place to wage war with Valour FC over the span of four days. Valour is yet to get off the ground this season and only boasts two goals to its name. Gonzalez will be encouraged by the positive rotation that he was allowed to have in Halifax, including rare minutes for Gabby Antinoro, who deserves a word for repeating his trick of creating a goal within a minute of taking to the pitch. His side will kick off again on Saturday, May 1 at 7pm for the first round of the Canadian Championship, so expect another Forward Press with all the details you need to prepare for that match. As always, there will be drinks before and after the match at the Glebe Central Pub. We hope to see you there!

About Ben

Ben Ralph is a die-hard football fan and a journalism student at Carleton. He has been supporting Everton through the ups and downs (but mostly the downs) and could not believe his luck when he stumbled across Atlético Ottawa in 2021. Now part of the Atleti faithful, his dream has always been to write football stories, and he is excited to join other fans as writers for CCSG. His football journalist idols are Adam Hurrey, James Richardson, and Charlie Eccleshare from The Football Cliches Podcast.

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